Friday, June 5, 2015

Adoption Story Part 5

Okay, today I'm going to run through the process we've completed this spring in order to bring Rose home. If you've missed anything, here are the other parts of this adventure. 

As I mentioned before we spent about 8 months putting together our China file in 2011. We submitted and were logged in Dec. 2011. This Jan we submitted some more paperwork {and money} to officially switch agencies with the Chinese Gov. Then we we officially re-logged in the end of Jan. 2015. From there our agency submitted the paper work to lock our file with our daughter. This was done on Jan 30.. from there we just waited... Some families in our agency got their official Letters of Consent with a month so of course I was hopeful.... but ours took two months ;o) March 27th we received our LSC... which was the letter from the central adoption agency in Beijing which we had to sign and return the original. 

As soon as this was received our agency was able to file with the US gov. our child's name and actually WHO she was. We applied years ago and were given the permission to adopt, now we tell them who we will bring home. We got our I-800 approval from the US by the end of April. From here things were sent to a courier in Guangzhou, China. It was hand delivered the US consulate there. We were hoping the consulate would expedite this Visa {Article 5} process for us, due to the fact that Rose's foster family would be leaving the end of May, but our request was denied. {not urgent enough} So we had to wait the normal 10 days for this paper to come through. Then the Article 5 was sent to the central agency in Beijing... and a few days later our Travel Approval came through: May 19th!! We missed getting Rose from her long term foster family by just days... but we were thinking we could be in China for a June 1st pick up... while we were waiting we heard that an official at the orphanage would be out of town and they wanted us to delay our trip. We were disappointed, but glad we heard this before we bought our tickets! We got a consulate appointment for Monday the 15th in Guangzhou, which meant we could go the 8th to get her from her home.

Note: Rose was moved to another American foster family in the interim period and did not have to return to the orphanage, so even though we were sad she had one more transition, it was a best case scenario. 

The only good thing about delaying our trip to the 8th was that I wouldn't have to take the kids back to the US by myself. I tried everything to get Rose a visa to stay in HK, but she will come with a Chinese passport and is only allowed to stay in HK for 7 days without a visa, and the visa wasn't going to happen.. with the delay in our trip 7 days is long enough for Bryan to finish up work and us all travel to the US on the 20th. 

When our agent when to confirm this with the orphanage, they wanted us to delay ANOTHER week, but we pleaded and they agreed that the person would be there for the 8th. AHHH... I spent a few days booking plane, trains and hotels in China, plus tickets back to the US for summer.... 

AND now.. tomorrow we will leave for China and in TWO days I will have a daughter... wow, it's all surreal... not sure when it will all sink in.. Prayers appreciated!!! I'll hope to post here next week with pictures and an update... here's our timeline for the next two weeks if you would pray over us. 
June 6th - leave for China
June 8th - 24 hour guardianship of Rose
June 9th - Sign the official Adoption papers
June 11 - Boys fly back to HK
June 12 - Emily and Rose fly to Guangzhou
June 13th - Medical for Rose
June 15th - Visa Appointment with the US consulate in Guangzhou
June 16th - Pick up US visa for Rose, and take a night train back to HK....
June 20 - fly to US for the summer and get Rose a US passport and new American/Thompson name ;o)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Beach day.. and other random May photos..

Max's school took a beach trip on Friday to end the ocean unit. It was a hot day, but we had a blast..

Everyone crowded in the shade... the temp was 100+ while we were there... HOT!

Later on Friday some dear friends threw me a little adoption dinner... we feel so supported!

Jack found a web address on a LEGO booklet and had to check it out..

A couple of weeks ago, Jacks class had a Dr. Seuss day... love this photo..

This photo came from a photo shoot I was doing of Annette in this dress, but I think this photo of these two is so funny!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Adoption Story Part 4

Part 1 
Part 2
Part 3
Leaving our little girl at the Children's home was very, very hard for me, but I was so thankful that I was able to go see where she was. While I was there I met a women who said she would help me to look for an American foster family for her and would keep an eye on her for me. 

Less than a month later, YiLi went to live with and American foster family who had two girls 4 and 6... the same ages as our kids! The home asked us to choose a name for her so this family could start calling her that. We spent time over the summer talking about it and chose the name Rose YiLi Thompson. Things were going well with her new foster family and we were able to get a few updates and photos a long the way too. 

The plan was that when her paperwork was ready our name would be put on her file before it was sent off to the main office in Beijing. Then somehow it would get connected with our agency and she would be matched with us after some more paperwork. The home said it would take three months to get her papers in order, then another month or two for it to be processed, but we were expecting to hear official word sometime in Oct. It was all a bit vague, but the home had done this several times before and it had worked out... 
We visited her the beginning of Oct, {visit post here}And were so pleased with how well she was doing. 

When the end of Oct came and went without news I contacted Christian Action here in HK to check on things. A few days later I received an e-mail saying we were "second on the list". I immediately freaked out... there wasn't suppose to be a list, we were suppose to be IT! After some frantic e-mails and calls it seemed that something had gone wrong and that she had been placed on the China shared special needs list {the one that is published for all agencies in the world to see} and another family had chosen her. There was an attempt for the next week or so to see if we could work something out but it all came back as a no. We were devastated! Here we were thinking we were just a few months from bringing her home and now it was all gone. We grieved her loss...and continued to pray for her.. but that she would be happy and healthy with her new family. She came to HK for a medical check in early Dec. and we said our official good-bye. We did not host her, it would have been to hard for me to care for her and know I couldn't keep her. 

Also during this time we took this step back as a sign that we should change things up. Our current agency really wasn't what we expected {as mentioned before} so I asked a friend who was working with another agency for information. I threw myself into the task of switching agencies and all the paperwork that went with that. It made us once again feel like things were moving. This new agency not only could see the shared list, but also has direction connections with several homes and has first dibs on lots of kids. We flew a social worker here from China right before Christmas break to finalize the switch. Then we flew to the US for Christmas...

While we were back in the US we started getting messages and texts that Christian Action was looking for us. We spoke on the phone and were told that something had happened {we still have no idea what} and that YiLi's file was back available. Did we want to try again? We said yes, but with little hope that anything would happen. We got our new agency working on it and two days later we received an e-mail saying they had secured her file and that her file was with our agency for the next three months and that we could be matched during this time! We were cautiously optimistic at this point. We told our family and just a few friends, then kept quiet while we worked hard to make it all "official" official..

Next up.... China adoption paperwork... the mountain!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Adoption Story - Part 3

Part 1
While we were fostering little "chen chen" we were approached by an organization here that has a baby home {one of the only in the city} and asked if we would be willing to be part of a pilot program to get more foreigners to foster. The new program was suppose to offer more flexibility for foster parents than the local system {like travelling with your foster child} and maybe even the possibility of adoption a foster child {which is not allowed under the normal foster system here}.

We were excited about this new opportunity and jumped right in after we returned from summer holiday. Because it was just in the start up stage, it actually took until March for the program to be up and running and at this point they didn't want to give us a placement since we would be off for summer soon. It seemed another school year was wasted with the process of it all.

At this same time CA contacted us again and wondered if we might want to foster another baby girl. This one with Bilateral Microtia and other general delays. It was only for 6 weeks and fit our schedule so we said yes. 

When little Yi Li arrived she was a very small baby for being 6 months. I remember we had a terrible time getting her to sleep that first night.. but she had just had a 10 hour travel day to come to us and had been dropped off to strangers... I'd have trouble sleeping too! 

Right from the start we learned the label - General Delays - were given to her only because the orphanage had never seen her condition before. She could roll just fine and learned to sit up before she turned 7 months. Within inn a few weeks it was apparent that all delays were because of environment, not her DNA. It was fun to watch her blossom and open up as well as she became comfortable with our family. 

I went with her to her hearing test, which showed that despite not having outer ears, her inner ears worked just fine { this is normal for her condition}. At the ENT we learned that with a bone anchored hearing aid she would have a normal range of hearing, and should develop speech normally.   A Physical Therapist checked out her delays, but by the time with saw this dr. most of them had self corrected due to being in our home. A jaw surgeon said she "may" need some jaw expansion surgery someday due to her smaller left side jaw.

AND... we fell in love with her! Almost right away we knew we wanted to try and adopt her. We spoke to CA and they said her adoption paperwork had not been started by the home, but when she went back to China, her file would be put together and they would help us to try and adopt her.

You can read about my trip to return her to China here.

at the time we were told if would take about 6 months after her papers were finished to complete the adoption. We were hoping that she would be in our home by early 2015. 

the next post.... it actually took a full year.... the story of ROSE...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our Adoption Story- Part 2

If you haven't read part 1 you can find it HERE.

After coming to the conclusion that a local Hong Kong adoption probably wasn't going to happen for us, I madly began researching other options. I e-mailed more than 20 agencies in the states and I was either given confusing or contradicting information or they just couldn't help us because we lived overseas. Just when I would get my hopes up about something, I would do more research and find out it was not an option for us. 

We found ISS {International Social Services} here in Hong Kong was doing adoptions with 5 countries at the time. China, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and India. Russia was too costly, India was only for Indians, Thailand had only boys, and the Philippines does adoptions like Hong Kong {a matching panel, not a list} so we feared we wouldn't be matched. We were most excited about China anyway since we had been envisioning ourselves with a Chinese child the whole time. After meeting with ISS and doing my own research I found out we would need to wait until I was 30 to file an adoption application with China.

We decided to try and get pregnant again while we waited for this time. We were blessed with conceiving in only a few months the second time around and Max was born in Sept. 2010, I was 29 years old. When he was just a few weeks old I took both boys with me to get the adoption application from ISS. We could begin the paper work, but not submit until I was old enough. We began the long and confusing process that is China adoption paperwork... Adoption classes, ordering new birth certificates and marriage license. Getting papers, notarized, authenticated, and approved by the Chinese consulate in the US for this purpose. References, background checks {in all the countries/counties your have lived since 18!!} interviews, and lots of paperwork!! By the next summer we had filed our application with the US government to be approved to adopt and by fall we had sent everything off to China.. and end of Nov. 2011 we were officially waiting! 

ISS had said at the time that it was around 2 years 10 months for a "normal" child and around 18 mths for a special needs child. We happily filled out out special needs profile list and expected that by the time Max was 3 we would have another child. 

You have to renew your US approval paperwork ever 15 months... which we have... several times now..

After the 18 mth mark of waiting with NO WORD I checked in with ISS. At this time, when I pressed for details it became clear that they hadn't even actually done a special needs adoption and told us that actually there aren't really any girls under 2 {our preference} on the list... We were devastated, but also knew that several friends in the US had gotten girls until 2 with special needs we would consider... so we weren't sure what was up.  ISS encouraged us to keep waiting and said that now with a 4 year wait we could get a "normal" child.  This was NOT what we wanted to hear.

Around the same time we had the opportunity to foster a baby girl through Christian Action. We had "chen chen" for three months and loved taking care of her while she was in Hong Kong. I felt such a strong love and connection with her, it only deepened my desire to adopt. We wrestled with the idea of trying to adopt her, but with her special needs and our two wild and active boys we just didn't think it was something we could take on.

A friend of a friend heard we were fostering though, and presented us with another opportunity...

to be continued...

Official Foster parents?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Busy and Fun Weekends...

April has been full of fun weekends... Here's a little catch up! We started with Jack's school book character day on a Saturday morning. I was also guest reader and read books to a couple of classes that morning. Jack and his friend Malcolm went as Calvin and Hobbs ;o)
His whole class dressed up..

Character parade..

Malcolm Jack and Josiah... best buds from birth!

Calvin and Hobbs ;o)

The next weekend Max had his Kindergarten concert Saturday morning... It's a bit hard to see. But he is in the front row, far right with a yellow shirt on... He sang with just the afternoon R1 classes, then his whole school... So cute!

And this weekend... we got away for a bit and went out for a quick camp out. We enjoyed a nice Saturday afternoon and evening at the beach, then packed up late morning Sunday.. The weather was perfect for camping!

Finishing up our weekend now with a lazy Sunday afternoon around home... another busy week ahead!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Adoption Story - Part 1

I've been meaning to write down the details of our adoption ordeal {I mean story  ;o)} for sometime now. As it appears there is a light at the end of the tunnel I'm going to attempt several installments, finishing with a pick-up of our new daughter... that's the plan at least! So here goes!

When Bryan and I were first married we were very interested in the idea of adoption. Both of us knew adopted kids and really like the idea. While in HK our first few years of marriage we saw several couples in our social circle adopt locally from HK, and the process was easy and very affordable. We kind of put the idea of doing the same on the table for a few years down the road. You had to have been married at least three years and be more than 25 years old to apply... When the time came closer to think about starting a family we decided to try to conceive for a few months first and if that didn't happen we would just start the adoption process. And while during those months it seemed everyone around us was getting pregnant, we did not. So, not to worry, we went to our first adoption meeting in the fall of 2006. 

It all seemed good, so we began the process, paperwork and interviews... by the end of May 2007, our family was in the Hong Kong adoption "pool". They call it this because there is no order to the matching of families and kids.  It is not based on wait time, but on the best fit for each child as they see fit. We were told that local Chinese families would be given priority over us, but we had seen many of our other "white" friend adopt and were not concerned. I didn't not return to teaching in the fall, thinking any moment we would have a baby...The months went by... with no good news. The matching panel was every other week on either Tuesday or Wednesday { I can't remember} I do remember being on edge all morning of those days though, thinking the phone could ring at any moment... 

Then surprise! In the fall of 2007, after about 6 months of no adoption news, I found myself pregnant. We were shocked... and then greatly disappointed when we had a miscarriage just a few weeks later. We talked about how we were feeling discouraged on the adoption front {no one else we knew had waited this long!} and how maybe the surprise pregnancy was God telling us to try again to conceive... AND.. two weeks after my miscarriage D &C, we did conceive Jack. We saw the positive pregnancy test the day after Christmas 2007. We had stayed in HK that Christmas thinking we would have a newly adopted child and not be allowed to travel. It ended up to be a good thing because that positive pregnancy test started the beginning of a very difficult and unstable pregnancy. Our Jack is a fighter though and by 20 weeks we knew we had to tell our adoption agency. 

You are not allowed to be pregnant and still say in the adoption pool.. So after 9 months of waiting for the call, in the spring of 2008 we took our name out. I was excited to be pregnant but very sad about the loss of the adopted child I had been planning on and praying for. We were told when Jack was 9 mths we could put our name back in.

So that's what we did. When Jack was 9 months old we got back into the local adoption pool. Our new social worker told us that our chances were even more slim now as we had a biological child, which lowers you in the priority standing here. We had also come to realize over the past year, that in the years since our friends had adopted the situation was very changed and it was very rare for a foreign family to be given a child. We knew several other families, who like us, started the process, waited and waited and eventually took themselves out of the situation... we were hopeful that something would work out for us though and so began to wait again... 

After another 9 months of nothing.. even with a more expanded child preference sheet {we were open to older and more special needs this time around} it didn't seem like it was going to work out....

Next time....
looking into overseas adoption..


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